POLL: How Often Do People Ask You For A Hookup?

One of the challenges facing many black small business owners, and especially new and less experienced entrepreneurs, is tradition of the hookup: the expectation that black entrepreneurs will give away their products and services for free–or “hook a brother/sista/cousin/etc. up”–because the patron is a friend or relative, and often just because both the business owner and the would-be patron are black. For years, I’ve railed against those who constantly expect to be hooked up, telling them that they are doing a disservice to black entrepreneurs, creating a drag on the growth and profitability of small black-owned businesses, and putting a damper on the economic vitality of black communities. (For more, check out my post, “Why I Hate The Hook-Up.”) On this week’s edition of The Urban Business Roundtable, the radio show I host for WVON-AM Chicago, I stressed that getting consumers to stop looking for a hook-up is only part of the solution; business owners need stop handing them out.

Felicia Joy, CEO of Ms. CEO Inc. and Joy Group International and host of The Ms. CEO Show, a weekly talk radio program, has dealt with more than her share of would-be clients seeking a hookup.

“People (especially potential clients for entrepreneurship coaching) often ask me to work for very little pay, or they try asking me questions to get valuable information and insights without paying for them,” says Joy. “I used to try to work with people, thinking that it was a money issue, but I have come to understand that more often it’s a mentality issue.

“My response now is, ‘I understand where you are coming from but my rate is firmly X per hour. When do you think you’ll have that amount?’,” Joy adds. “If the person is unwilling to commit to a time frame,  I know they’re not serious and I tell them to call me when they’re ready; then I move on and forget it. This has also challenged me to begin developing more products (books and CDs) that I can sell at a $25 or less price point–and reach more people–rather than shortchanging and burning out myself.”

How often do people expect you, as a business owner, to hook them up? Is it a rare event, a common but minor annoyance, or a real drag on the growth and profit-potential of your business? Take our poll and share your experience on this subject, and as well as your take on the issue and how you deal with it.